- New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority is launching a new pilot program that will make it possible to use your iPhone or Apple Watch to pay for subway fare.
- As part of the program, new contactless readers have been placed at select stops along New York’s 4,5,6 line and Staten Island buses.
- The launch comes after Apple said in March that it would bring contactless public transit payments to cities such as New York, Portland, and Chicago.
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New York City’s subway system is getting a big upgrade that will allow passengers to pay for subway fare with a simple tap rather than a swipe.
On May 31, patrons taking the 4, 5, and 6 trains – a popular subway line that stops at busy stations like Grand Central Terminal, Wall Street, and Barclays Center – will be able to enter the subway by holding their smartphone or wearable device near a reader rather than swiping a Metro Card.
It’s the beginning of a pilot program for the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s new OMNY contactless fare system, which will accept digital wallets such as Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay as well as contactless credit cards from major companies such as Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover.
For Apple device users, that means you’ll be able to board the subway by holding your iPhone or Apple Watch near the reader, similar to the way you can digitally scan your boarding pass for a flight through Apple’s Wallet app. The feature, which Apple is calling Apple Pay Express Transit, works very much like the standard version of Apple Pay.
Just choose the card you’d like to use to pay for subway fare, and your Apple device will know to charge that card specifically when your phone or Apple Watch is held near one of the MTA’s contactless readers. You don’t have to wake your phone or watch in order for this to work, just holding it near the reader will do the trick.
The launch comes after Apple announced in March that it will soon make its Apple Pay service compatible with public transit systems in New York, Chicago, and Portland.
As part of this pilot program, the service will be available at 16 stops along the 4,5,6 line between Grand Central terminal in Manhattan and Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center in Brooklyn. It will also be present on all Staten Island buses.
The new fare system currently only supports single fare tickets, but will eventually support other options as well. After the public pilot ends, the MTA is aiming to roll out the new readers to the rest of the 4,5,6 line and additional buses in 2020.
It’s a notable step forward for New York’s public transit system, which will join other major cities such as London and Sydney that already offer contactless payments for their respective transit systems.
Here’s a look at what Apple device users should do to get started.
First, make sure your iPhone is running the latest software.
To do this, open your iPhone’s Settings menu, select General, and then tap Software Update. Your device must be running on iOS 12.3 or higher to use Apple Pay Express Transit.
Make sure your Apple Watch is up to date, too.
Open the Watch app on your iPhone, select the General option, and choose Software Update. Your Apple Watch must be running on watchOS 5.2.1.
Then, open your iPhone’s Settings menu and choose Wallet & Apple Pay.
If you’ve ever added a credit card to your iPhone, it’s the same menu option.
Choose “Express Transit Card” and select the card you would like to use.
The Express Transit Card feature is different from the regular Apple Wallet because it doesn’t require your passcode or Face ID to work.
Then, authenticate with Face ID, Touch ID, or your passcode to confirm that this card will be used for Express Transit.
That’s it! You’re ready to ride.
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